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patient experience, healthcare reputation, HCAHPS

Employee Experience Drives Healthcare Patient Experience

by Sarah Hitt


My last post, Patient Feedback and the Role It Plays in Improving Patient Experience, covered survey methodologies and rating the quality and quantity of patient care.  The most important factor affecting the delivery of that care are the employees who are in direct contact with your patients.  Today, we take a look at how employee experience helps drive the patient experience.


Healthcare organizations must face multiple challenges every day. Shortages of talent, controlling costs, and adding to the bottom line while transitioning to value-based healthcare can haunt even the most well-run clinics and hospitals. Resources are limited, so focusing on initiatives with the most impact is necessary. Patient experience becomes an essential category as satisfaction scores affect reimbursements. One way to benefit the bottom line while improving patient experience is to improve employee experience.

According to a recent study by Blake Morgan, companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those companies that do not invest in their employees. The driver of this result is highly engaged employees focus better on the patient, causing customer experience to improve.

Companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those companies that do not invest in their employees.Click To Tweet

Employee experience drives patient experience

Healthcare is an industry where customers meet many people during their office visit or stay. While doctors are essential for diagnosis and treatment, doctors only spend on average eight minutes with each patient.

This means the patient experience is reliant on other employees. Healthcare employees who have a strong positive experience with the organization will be engaged, and that engagement transfers to a personal and emotional investment in doing their jobs well.

In fact, business groups with employee engagement scores in the top 25 percent had 10 percent stronger customer experience metrics. Companies that excel in customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than competitors with poor customer experience ratings.

Statistics show employee experience will closely match patient experience. The key for healthcare organizations is to maximize employee experience to create engaged employees.

Characteristics of an engaged employee

Engaged employees are easily recognized among their peers. One of the primary, and, most important, aspects of an engaged employee is they connect with their patients and families. Despite burdensome regulations and cost control needs, healthcare is an industry that is about people. Engaged employees connect on a personal basis, making the patient experience warmer and more positive.

Similarly, a positive employee experience leads to lower stress levels and general contentment about their jobs. Lower stress leads to employees checking on patients more frequently while exhibiting lower levels of anxiety. Plus, when healthcare personnel have lower anxiety, patients are quicker to warm up and feel positive about the interaction.

Having a manager that promotes a positive work environment and open communication among staff is a significant factor that will help drive employee engagement. When an employee feels supported by their manager, engagement can increase exponentially.

Willis Towers Watson found that engagement declines after a communication breakdown. The lack of clear communication and poor attempts at listening to employee feedback is directly tied to how connected to your organization your employees feel.

Ultimately, an employee who feels heard and is engaged will be heavily invested in your business success. Their investment is reinforced in their behavior in positive ways, including meticulous attention to detail in their duties and willingness to help their colleagues.

Willingness to help colleagues builds better employee experiences as each employee feels they have support – even if staffing is short – and they have flexibility in their work lives. Less stress and positive feelings about the work environment circles back to making the patient experience feel more personal and individually focused.

Ways to increase engagement among healthcare employees

Communication continues to be a primary driver for improving engagement, both in on-boarding and hiring, as well as frequent inquiries about employee experience. Outlining core values and expectations on the outset will provide employees a map for successful interactions, preventing the dreaded gray lake of unknown expectations.

Tying manager success and performance to regular communication will ensure the initiatives are shared regularly. Constant communication gives managers an opportunity to review and reinforce core values by discussing good behavior with employees. Also, constant interaction with managers provides employees with opportunities to connect and bond with your organization, increasing employee retention and loyalty.

Engage your staff in growth and change by asking for feedback on initiatives. Your employees know what works well in their departments, and also what creates inefficiencies. Tapping into their knowledge will help the organization while also improving a sense of contribution in the employee experience.

At the end of all of this, recognition of and rewarding your staff is key. Build a reward system based on the core values to reinforce great behavior, and transparently evaluate performances through both employee and patient experience feedback mechanisms. Using easy-to-use employee and patient feedback technology will ensure you have accurate data to support your employee experience, your organization and the exceptional delivery of services to your patients.

Using easy-to-use employee and patient feedback technology will ensure you have accurate data to support your employee experience, your organization and the exceptional delivery of services to your patients.Click To Tweet

Certain key stressors in the healthcare field are not going to decrease or go away. Federal reimbursements will continue to be tied to patient experience, which means resources need to focus on building a positive outcome for your customers.

Evidence shows that positive employee experience leads to positive customer experience, regardless of the industry. The connection between employees and customers is even more heightened in healthcare due to the nature of people caring for people. Use your resources to benefit your organization the best way possible by investing in employee experience, which will, in turn, lead to positive patient experiences and a healthy bottom line.

In our final blog in this series, “Influencing Patient Experience,” I provide insight on the two factors that have gained importance in improving Patient Satisfaction: (1) increasing your sample size and (2) reducing the amount of time it takes to receive, analyze and act on patient feedback.

Sarah Hitt

CX Expert, Field Sales

Sarah is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with proven results achieved through end-to-end management of internationally recognized CX, EX and performance programs.

Sarah is most known for her expertise in developing customer-centric cultures, her Voice of Customer insights & understanding and her ability to raise performance.

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